I’m not Australian. If I were, I’d make a concerted effort to grill on a regular basis just so I could say “bah-bie”. I’d also call everyone a “mate” – which Americans might not take well to, nor my hubs. I’d understand all the craze behind this product they call ‘vegemite’ which, from what I can tell, is something I’d never want on my bread when I could instead have preserves or apple butter. I’d presumably like Uggs. And last but certainly not least – if I were Australian, I’d eat a helluva lot of kangaroo.
Don’t start giving me a sob story about those cute little marsupials that hop around with their “joeys” all innocent-like. I think Bambi and Piglet are cute too, but that doesn’t mean I’m becoming a vegetarian any time soon. So, just bear with me, ok?
Kangaroo meat is, for obvious reasons, primarily consumed in Australia, but you will sometimes see it making its’ way onto European menus (and maybe even in the US, though I haven’t seen it). Since the meat is produced only from free-range (i.e., not farmed) animals, the taste is a bit stronger and probably somewhere between that of lamb and venison (although I’ve only had venison once so I can’t comment heavily on its’ taste), a bit gamey if truth be told. It’s extra high in protein and super low in fat, making it a great red meat choice.
Some have even suggested eating ‘roo instead of beef because it’s environmentally friendlier (yes, in Australia… not here in the US…). And for you Top Chef-er’s, it was one of the ‘exotic meats’ on Season Three for one of their opening challenges.
What does all this European and Australian banter have to do with me and my American self, you ask? I’ll tell you.
Hubs and I took a holiday to Spain last September (yes, sticking with the Euro-talk) where we spent 3 days in Madrid and 3 days in Barcelona. Now let me be clear - I was completely more than fine with eating tapas, especially the jamon, all week. But rather than following the crowd through las Ramblas, we opted for an off-the-beaten-path restaurant for our last night in Barcelona and found ourselves at a quaint little spot called Nonell Restaurante. Despite the off-and-on sprinkling, we sat outdoors underneath an umbrella’d table. We must have fooled them since we weren’t wearing sneakers and fanny paks as they first gave us the Catalonian menu (Barcelona’s primary language, Spanish being second). Fortunately, they had a perfectly translated English menu and once we knew what the choices were it became pretty difficult to decide.
I don’t remember what I ate, but Chris ordered the kangaroo, figuring he’d go “balls to the wall” on the last night. It was fabulous, and we were immediately saddened by the lack of ‘roo in the US – especially Chris. But that didn’t stop me – I found an awesome US-based exotic meat importer called Fossil Farms and ordered him up some for Christmas. I finished off the shipment this weekend.
If you’re “game”, give the ‘roo a try.
Kangaroo with Mixed Peppercorn & Pomegranate Reduction
Adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2009; serves 4
Pairs nicely with a bold Australian shiraz
You’re right – Bon Appetit did NOT have a ‘roo recipe! But rather than finding a recipe specific to kangaroo, I thought I’d find a steak recipe that didn’t appear to completely mask the steak flavors and then substitute the ‘roo for it. I knew I wanted to make a pomegranate reduction with the ‘roo, and this recipe was the perfect answer. I’m sure, if you don’t want to try the ‘roo, that the suggested sirloin steak would be excellent as well!
1 1/4 lb kangaroo loin (or, as BA uses, 1 1 1/4 lb top sirloin steak)
1 1/2 t chopped fresh rosemary
2 1/2 t olive oil, divided
1 c pomegranate juice
4 t light brown sugar
2 1/2 t balsamic vinegar, divided
4 c arugula
4 T pomegranate seeds
Sprinkle fillets very generously with coarsely ground peppercorn mix and salt. Sprinkle each side of fillet with chopped rosemary. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fillet; cook to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare (if you do use kangaroo, you really shouldn’t cook above med-rare). Transfer fillet to platter and let rest, tented, while preparing reduction. Add pomegranate juice, brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar to skillet; boil until reduced to 1/4 cup glaze, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Will be be thick and syrup consistency. Season glaze to taste with salt.
Toss arugula with remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil and remaining 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar in medium bowl; season to taste with salt. Divide arugula evenly among 4 plates and add pomegranate seeds. Slice fillets; divide and arrange alongside arugula. Drizzle glaze generously around fillets and serve.
3 average-sized russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 small rutabaga, peeled and cut into chunks
2 T unsalted butter
2 T heavy cream
bring a large pot of water to boil and add potatoes. boil about 15 minutes. drain. mash potatoes with potato masher, or run through food mill. add in butter and cream while mash is hot. season with salt and pepper. set aside and rewarm if needed.